The massive survey. IV. the X-ray Halos of the most massive early-type galaxies in the nearby universe

Andy D. Goulding, Jenny E. Greene, Chung Pei Ma, Melanie Veale, Akos Bogdan, Kristina Nyland, John P. Blakeslee, Nicholas J. McConnell, Jens Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Studies of the physical properties of local elliptical galaxies are shedding new light on galaxy formation. Here we present the hot-gas properties of 33 early-type systems within the MASSIVE galaxy survey that have archival Chandra X-ray observations, and we use these data to derive X-ray luminosities (LX,gas) and plasma temperatures (Tgas) for the diffuse gas components. We combine this with the ATLAS3D survey to investigate the X-ray-optical properties of a statistically significant sample of early-type galaxies across a wide range of environments. When X-ray measurements are performed consistently in apertures set by the galaxy stellar content, we deduce that all early types (independent of galaxy mass, environment, and rotational support) follow a universal scaling law such that LX,gas ∝ Tgas ∼4.5. We further demonstrate that the scatter in LX,gas around both K-band luminosity (LK) and the galaxy stellar velocity dispersion (σe) is primarily driven by Tgas, with no clear trends with halo mass, radio power, or angular momentum of the stars. It is not trivial to tie the gas origin directly to either stellar mass or galaxy potential. Indeed, our data require a steeper relation between LX,gas, LK, and σe than predicted by standard mass-loss models. Finally, we find that is set by the galaxy potential inside the optical effective radius. We conclude that within the innermost 10-30 kpc region, early types maintain pressure-supported hot gas, with a minimum Tgas set by the virial temperature, but the majority show evidence for additional heating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number167
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • X-rays: galaxies
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation


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